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FILM REVIEW: Adam McKay’s ‘Vice’

By Ray Bennett LONDON – American writer-director Adam McKay’s political satire ‘Vice’ does for Washington what his 2015 film ‘The Big Short’ did for Wall Street with the same mix of techniques that includes sharp humour, characters speaking to camera, … Continue reading

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Russell Baker: a gift ‘for fooling around with words’

By Ray Bennett LONDON – The great New York Times columnist Russell Baker, who has died aged 93, was one of my journalistic heroes and when I interviewed him in 1989 he turned out to be everything I’d hoped. He … Continue reading

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‘Roma’, ‘The Favourite’, ‘Cold War’ top London critics awards

By Ray Bennett LONDON – There were few surprises at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards on Sunday as Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white Spanish drama ‘Roma’ won best picture and he was named best director while costume romp ‘The Favourite’ picked … Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Josie Rourke’s ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

By Ray Bennett LONDON – Josie Rourke’s pedestrian costume saga ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ offers a revisionist and modernist view of the would-be monarch who threatened Elizabeth I’s reign and was executed aged 44 in 1587 but it fails to … Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Jon S. Baird’s ‘Stan & Ollie’

By Ray Bennett LONDON – Jon S. Baird’s ‘Stan & Ollie’ appears well intended but it has two central problems. One is the decision to portray the great silent comics Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as sad clowns and the … Continue reading

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‘The Favourite’ set to clean up at the Bafta film awards

By Ray Bennett LONDON – This year’s Bafta Film Awards nominations are predictably conventional but it hardly matters as the immensely popular ‘The Favourite’ (pictured) is a shoo-in for many of its 12 nominations including the actress prizes, Brits Christian … Continue reading

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A critic’s lament: Do you see what I see?

By Ray Bennett LONDON – Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Those imponderables challenge a critic with every review. For me, Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Roma’ is the best film of 2018 but a friend has a … Continue reading

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‘Roma’, ‘Cold War’ lead my Top 10 film picks of 2018

By Ray Bennett LONDON – One of the great advantages of being a member of the Critics’ Circle and BAFTA is that distributors send out dozens of screeners of films for which they seek consideration in the annual awards. It means … Continue reading

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Ed McBain tops my 2018 reading list

By Ray Bennett LONDON – Evan Hunter was an American writer who wrote several novels that were made into movies including Richard Brooks’s ‘Blackboard Jungle’ (above) starring Glenn Ford and featuring Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow but known best for … Continue reading

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Tomboy Barbara Mandrell loved to be called sexy

By Ray Bennett LONDON – Barbara Mandrell, who turned 70 on Christmas Day, was country when country wasn’t cool but in 1981, when she was 32, she loved it when I told her I thought she was a knockout. “Well, … Continue reading

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